Top 5 Benefits of Social Media for Small Businesses
- April 12, 2022
- 12 min read
- By Kirti Goyal
TABLE OF CONTENTS
If you thought getting on the first page of Google search results and high organic traffic was the single most factor crucial for driving business growth online, consider these social media statistics:
- Nearly 45% of buyers liked posts from company or brand social handles, hinting at the value of social media for customer engagement
- 43% of people in the US follow a company or brand on social media to keep up to date about their latest offerings and services
- About 32% of consumers leave a review of a product or service on social channels, making them a gold mine for collecting feedback and customer research and improving services
- 23% of customers shared brand or company-related content on their profiles, introducing the business to their social media network and boosting its reach
Social media is fast proving to be a game-changer in the way people engage with their favorite brands. It is no longer a channel where they hang out just for fun. Rather, it is becoming a medium for them to engage with businesses on a daily basis, read reviews, and check out their customer support before buying from them.
If you are not social, the chances are you are missing the opportunity to engage with your customers qualitatively as well as to drive them to your website (more on that below) and boost its ranking on Google search result pages.
This post discusses the benefits of having a social media for small businesses and offers practical tips on designing a social marketing strategy for success. You will leave this page with a clear insight into the types of visual content that work best for social and the tools for designing them.
- Social media helps boost brand awareness and drive website traffic
- Build a marketing strategy tailored for each social channel
- Share different types of visual content on different channels
- Use free tools like Canva and Vimeo for creating unique visual content
5 Benefits of Social Media for Small Businesses
Amy Jo Martin summed up the beauty and power of social when she said:
“It’s a dialogue, not a monologue, and some people don’t understand that. Social media is more like a telephone than a television.”
What she means is social media is not an echo chamber for singular posting. Instead, it is a two-way street that fosters diverse opinions and promotes meaningful conversations between users.
For businesses, that’s a crucial insight for tapping into the potential of social for winning over people through appealing content and converting them into loyal brand ambassadors.
More so when 58% of the world’s population now uses social media, and 59% of marketers consider it to be a “very important” part of their overall marketing strategy.
But if you do not tailor your social channels to the needs of your target audiences, you will lose out on the following benefits of social media:
1. Builds Brand Awareness
Research by Sprout Social reveals that going forward, buyers would prefer to learn about brands via social media and buy directly from them. It is a golden time period and opportunity for small businesses to use social media and reach prospective buyers.
In fact, 65% of consumers have already directly bought through social media, and social commerce sales will cross $53 billion by 2023, nearly double the number of $28 billion in 2020.
Most small businesses compete against big giants on search results and fail to rank at the top positions of Google pages but social media offers them an alternative route to get in front of their target audience. They can sign up for business profiles and start optimizing them to reach their customers.
Social channels like Instagram are a popular choice for small eCommerce stores to reach prospective customers and build their base. This image shows how Letterfolk does it through a creative and relatable approach toward home decor on its handle!
It’s one among many examples of small businesses using social media right.
2. Drives Website Traffic
Google uses many factors to rank a website, and social signals are one of them. While social media presence may not directly impact your position on search listings, it certainly influences the content of your search results. Social media profiles are often #1 on Google for brand names. If you are not social, you are probably losing that real estate to someone else.
Image Source: Google
See how our social profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube come up for our brand name on Google? A solid social media presence strengthens your rank on the result pages and lets users explore your brand at leisure, giving them the resources they need to make an informed choice.
3. Positions as a Thought Leader
Every social media channel has a different purpose and audience. While Instagram caters to people looking for a light time on the internet, platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter are geared towards audiences looking for useful information from industry leaders to gain skills and advance in their careers.
They help business owners (especially in the B2B space) share expert opinions on the latest breakthroughs in their niche, amass followers, and unlock opportunities for lucrative partnerships. Twitter and LinkedIn work best for businesses in the industries like SaaS and technology, to take two examples.
They allow you to share lesser-known tidbits from your professional life and show people the formula to replicate the same success, in turn earning you a personal brand and better visibility for your business. Check out how Ryan Law, VP of Content at Animalz, does this on Twitter!
Image Source: Twitter
The image below shows thought leadership content helping Ashley Faus build her brand on LinkedIn. Read her take on content marketing to understand why fellow marketers look up to her to fix the content operations at their workplaces.
4. Helps Delivery Quality Consumer Support
Zendesk’s 2020 Customer Experience Trends Report revealed that nearly three out of five consumers consider good customer service vital for brand loyalty. And fast responses hold a big share among factors that constitute excellent customer support.
Instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp help businesses chat with their customers directly and send speedy replies to their queries and concerns.
Image Source: WhatsApp
Take this rising eCommerce store, for example. SafeCup is a menstruation products seller that not only responds to its users’ DMs fast but also uses the WhatsApp stories features to update them about the latest products and running discounts. The bottom line?
It is always in sight and never out of the mind of its customers.
5. Makes Reputation Management Easy
Social media empowers buyers in a major way. They no longer have to endlessly wait to hear a response from official communication channels when they can publicly air grievances on their social profiles and hold businesses accountable.
Small businesses may not find themselves in the center of big storms that involve the likes of Uber. But a bad customer experience does hold the potential to dent their business image within a tight-knit group and snowball into a major crisis if not handled timely and well.
But as mentioned earlier, social media is a platform that facilitates dialogue. It lets you respond to complaints privately on DMs as well as offers the option to reply to comments and give potential customers your side of the story.
That lets users judge the brand authenticity and goes a long way in instilling trust in your company.
Social media holds incredible value for boosting sales and the bottom line for small businesses. The only catch is that it’s not easy as it sounds, and anyone that says otherwise is out of touch with reality. Social media is both a crowded and competitive space.
Unless you enter the ring with a research-backed strategy, it will fall through.
Next, I discuss the best tips on social media marketing for small businesses to help them hit the ground running.
Tips for Social Media Marketing
Small businesses went social almost a decade before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and made it inevitable. But their reasons for doing so remain pervasively relevant. In an article for the Guardian, Anthony Lloyd, owner of Fallowfields Hotel in East London, said he turned to social media because “we had to cut marketing costs and win new business” and that joining Twitter helped with both.
“I’d never used it before and it took me several months to see any results, but within 18 months I had 1000 followers and bookings were up, generating￡150,000 of new business.”
Image Source: Guardian
In another account, David Hickey, owner of a private dental clinic, talked about his presence on Facebook and Twitter and how linking both feeds to the website kept the practice consistently high in dentistry-related searches in the local area. But the clinic owed its real success to YouTube videos.
“It allows potential new clients to see previous clients and their experiences, and to see me before they pick up the phone, which has made a huge difference for those who are nervous or fearful. Trust is a large part of my business and the videos of me on the website are a start to building trust.”
Social media marketing success stories for small businesses like these are rare. For the most part, business owners fail to reap the benefits of social media either because of a lack of time to devise a strategy or expertise in the area. They do not think of social as a customer acquisition channel and feel disappointed when it fails to drive ROI.
To use social media effectively, you must:
- Design a plan: The first step is determining the objectives from your social profiles. Do you want to use them to boost brand awareness or build your personal brand by posting thought leadership content? Or perhaps you wish to serve them as portals for providing quality customer support?
Different objectives demand different approaches to social media marketing. Be clear about your needs, set concrete goals, and perform competitive research to understand the current best practices. Once that’s in order, begin collecting data on your target audience.
- Research target audience: Intel on prospective buyers makes social media marketing a lot easier. Find your audience’s social media habits and build a buyer persona that can be customized further to micro-target users depending on demographics.
Consider the fact that adults over the age of 65 are Facebook’s rapidly growing audience segment and might be worth targeting for small businesses selling physio and ortho products, for instance.
- Choose the right social media platforms: As discussed above, all social media networks have specific use cases. Combine them with the idiosyncrasies of your target audience on these sites and you get a virtual network that’s forever evolving.
While LinkedIn had emerged as a platform for finding jobs, it’s now a channel for personal branding and outreach also.
See where your buyers hang out on social and adapt your social marketing strategy to their behavior and the quirks of those particular platforms.
Do not market on Instagram if your target audience is on Twitter, and ditch Facebook if LinkedIn is their favorite social hang out.
- Nurture relationships: To be on social media is not enough if you are not investing time and energy in building meaningful relationships with your audience. If you post inconsistently or do not reply to their questions over DMs or never respond to the brand mentions on their handles, they will lose interest over time.
Relationships, be they in reel or in real life, need effort.
- Follow trends: Social is a dynamic place, where nothing lasts long. The algorithms governing the reach of content on these networks are constantly shifting as are users’ social media habits.
A large part of what reaches audiences is trending content. When marketing on social, follow trends to stay relevant and capture attention. And that would require your marketing strategy to be flexible.
- Track performance: Successful social media marketing is about posting quality content and measuring its impact and reach. You may be winning with photos on Instagram but taking a totally wrong approach toward videos as visual content on LinkedIn.
The key here is tracking data using social media tools like Buffer and Sprout Social and adjusting your content strategy as per analytics.
Let us look at the types of visual content suited for different social media sites
Types of Social Media Content
You may have heard the phrase ‘content is king’ to describe the importance of content marketing for business. But content without context is a perfect recipe for disaster. Each channel has its unsaid rules determining the creation and distribution of content.
If you do not follow them, you will lose the game.
While visual content works best on social is common knowledge, many are unaware of its different types and what best practices to follow when using them:
They need no intros. Photos are a fantastic content marketing asset for almost every social network. Professional graphic designers can create images as per your requirement. It is least time-consuming form of content to make and complements text-heavy content on organic as well as social. Stick to these best practices when including them in your posts:
- Refrain from stock images and instead create original design with the help of a graphic design virtual assistants to win traction among your target audience
- Play around with colors to bring vibrancy to your profile but do not go overboard and ensure they align with your brand
- Use contextual images that add value to your posts and always be relevant
Take a cue from Safecup’s Insta profile. See how the posts focus on a women-first theme while closely sticking to their branding?
2. Data-Based Visuals
These are infographics, charts, and graphs suitable for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can seek help from a graphic design virtual assistant to curate such visuals. When used and promoted right, they help drive inbound leads to your website and establish you as a thought leader in the industry.
Some best practices to implement:
- Choose a suitable format that complements your data and audience. For example, if the data involves large numbers and shifts over time, a graph may be better suited than a pie chart illustration which works best for visualizing data in a specific moment of time.
- Use contrasting colors to show data in an easily understandable way and prevent confusion about the represented entities.
- Ensure your visuals can be stand-alone and do not need additional context to help your audience understand them.
Find inspiration from this infographic on India’s top export destinations for 2020-21 by Finshots.
Wyzowl’s 2022 State of Video Marketing Report revealed that 86% of marketers considered videos to be effective for generating leads, and an astonishing 94% of them agreed that videos helped increase user understanding of their product or service.
It is unsurprising then videos form a big chunk of the content marketing budget at enterprise companies. But financial constraints often hinder small businesses from leveraging their potential for ROI.
You don’t need to spend a huge amount of money to see results from videos in your social media marketing strategy. Today, video formats like animation, voice-over, testimonials, and reels make it possible for small businesses to recreate similar success as big companies.
Notice the formats that have traction on social sites where your audience is, and follow these tips:
- Think of the purpose behind creating a video first and the action you want the user to take after watching it. Use that objective to decide upon the content and how to present it for maximum reach.
If it’s to drive brand awareness, check what’s trending on Instagram reels and insert relevant hashtags to make it go viral.
Similarly, if your target audience is on LinkedIn and the purpose is highlighting brand success, use a crisp client testimonial to push users to visit your website.
- Take a story-telling approach with a clear beginning, middle, and end to make them engaging.
Use captions in your videos for people with hearing disabilities and make it easy for others to watch them on mute if they like.
- Add clear CTAs on the basis of the content and the objective behind the videos to help people take the next action after they finish watching them.
- Monitor the videos formats receiving the most likes, shares, and comments. Do more of them and stop producing content that’s not gaining traction despite your best efforts.
The next section introduces you to the best free tools for creating visual content for social media marketing. Let’s dig in.
Tools for Creating Social Media Content
The market is saturated with options for producing visual content. But most of them require either paid memberships for creating high-quality assets or are too complex for a design novice.
To help you save time and effort, I picked two freemiums tools that are user-friendly and worth exploring:
It is a popular choice among individuals and small teams scaling their social media operations. Canva has an impressive library of professionally designed layouts for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others. You can get free access to over 100 templates and create incredible graphics within minutes.
Follow these steps outlined in the image below and get going!
Image Source: Canva
Vimeo is a video services provider that delivers high-definition videos across many devices. Though not entirely free, it is one of the best video-making and editing tools, offering a basic plan to help you explore the best of the video world. Vimeo lets you create stunning videos for Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.
Choose from a wide range of free professional templates for any occasion and make your videos in seconds.
This image details how:
Image Source: Vimeo
Donning multiple hats and working on several fronts, small business owners don’t have the time to plan or start social marketing activities. Social often takes a backseat in their to-do lists despite its high potential for business growth. The way out is to hire a social media marketing remote assistant like graphic design virtual assistant or a remote copywriter who can ease their workload and manage social media effectively. Contact us to pair you with the perfect talent today.